Home 2021 Elections VA Dem Candidates’ Twitter Followings Did NOT Correlate with Success at the...

VA Dem Candidates’ Twitter Followings Did NOT Correlate with Success at the Primary Polls on Tuesday

That's not to say that Twitter serves no purpose, but it's important to remind ourselves that "Twitter is not real life," nor is it reflective of the wider Democratic electorate

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Did the number of Twitter followers for each candidate at all correlate with how they did in the election on Tuesday? Based on the following numbers, it looks like the answer is pretty much “definitely not,” maybe even a somewhat negative correlation? Also worth noting is that a few campaigns (e.g., Jennifer Carroll Foy’s, Lee Carter’s) spent a lot of time and effort building up their Twitter followings, with frequent tweets urging things like “Retweet if you believe it’s time to elect more Black women.” That definitely seems to have helped build up those candidates’ Twitter followings, but it’s hard to see much correlation to how they performed in the June 8th Democratic primary.

Now, that doesn’t mean that Twitter is useless by any means, but…I’d note that, even if it plays a role in politics (“It’s where public officials make statements, where activists pressure politicians and where reporters announce their latest scoops.“), in many ways it’s also “totally unrepresentative of America” (or, in this case, Virginia).

“The views of Democrats on social media often bear little resemblance to those of the wider Democratic electorate,” they write. “The outspoken group of Democratic-leaning voters on social media is outnumbered, roughly 2 to 1, by the more moderate, more diverse and less educated group of Democrats who typically don’t post political content online.”

Their big takeaway happens to be our second On Politics rule of 2020: Twitter is not real life.

For instance, think back to the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, and how everyone was talking excitedly about their preferred candidates – Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Andrew Yang, and…not particularly the guy who went on to win the nomination, Joe Biden. If anything, if you argued back in late 2019 or early 2020 on Twitter that you liked Biden, you’d most likely be subjected to a torrent of negative comments, such as that we absolutely CAN NOT have an old white male (except for Bernie Sanders, apparently), etc. Meanwhile, Democratic primary voters in South Carolina and elsewhere (including here in Virginia) mostly were NOT on Twitter, and…voted heavily for Biden in their primaries. So…yeah, Twitter (and presumably Facebook as well) serves a purpose, but it’s definitely NOT reflective of the vast majority of Democratic voters.

With that, here are the numbers for statewide offices and a few competitive House of Delegates races…

GOVERNOR

  • Terry McAuliffe: 77.4k Twitter followers – Third in Twitter followers, but finished in first place in the primary, with 62.2% of the vote
  • Jennifer Carroll Foy: 113.9 Twitter followers – First in Twitter followers, but finished in second place in the primary, with 19.8% of the vote
  • Jennifer McClellan: 18k followers – Last in Twitter followers, finished in third place in the primary, with 11.7% of the vote
  • Justin Fairfax: 30.8k Twitter followers – Third in Twitter followers, finished in fourth place in the primary, with 3.6% of the vote
  • Lee Carter: 110.6k Twitter followers – Second in Twitter followers, finished in fifth place in the primary, with 2.8% of the vote

LT. GOVERNOR

  • Hala Ayala: 15.3k Twitter followers – Third in Twitter followers, finished in first place in the primary, with 37.6% of the vote
  • Sam Rasoul: 15.4k Twitter followers – Second in Twitter followers, finished in second place in the primary, with 24.3% of the vote
  • Mark Levine: 2.9k Twitter followers – Fourth in Twitter followers, finished in third place in the primary, with 11.1% of the vote
  • Andria McClellan: 2.2k Twitter followers – Fifth in Twitter followers, finished in fourth place in the primary, with 10.6% of the vote
  • Sean Perryman: 71k Twitter followers – First in Twitter followers, finished in fifth place in the primary, with 8.1% of the vote
  • Xavier Warren: 414 Twitter followers – Sixth in Twitter followers, finished in sixth place in the primary, with 4.2% of the vote

ATTORNEY GENERAL

  • Mark Herring: 44.2k Twitter followers – First in Twitter followers, finished in first place in the primary, with 56.6% of the vote
  • Jay Jones: 6.2k Twitter followers – Second in Twitter followers, finished in second place in the primary, with 43.4% of the vote

HOUSE OF DELEGATES 

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